Barcelona legend Carles Puyol has named the best XI players he faced as a professional football player.
The ex-Spain international included Premier League legend Didier Drogba, and Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero. Notably missing from the list is Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 38-year old retired player won three UEFA Champions League titles, six La Liga titles amongst others whilst in action for Barcelona. On the international scene, he earned 100 caps for Spain, and lifted the Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup.
The former player told The Times his best XI. He mentioned Gianluigi Buffon as his best goalkeeper. Then he picked former Inter Milan right back Javier Zanetti, AC Milan legend Alessandro Nesta, Paolo Maldini and Brazilian left back Roberto Carlos as the best defence set-up. In midfield, Puyol named Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf, and Zinedine Zidane. In front, he named Arjen Robben, Didier Drogba and Sergio Aguero.
He could not name Lionel Messi, as they were long-term teammates at Barcelona before he retired. However, back in 2011, the player made bold the proclamation that Messi was the best player in the world. He said:
“They [Messi and Ronaldo] are both great players but in my opinion Messi is the best in the world. He [Ronaldo] is one of the best. He’s a player who can make the difference and he has been scoring many goals. In my opinion, he’s the most important player in Real Madrid.”
This statement might make it surprising that he eventually did not name Ronaldo on his best XI, except he deems the three-time Ballon d’Or winner not good enough for his list. Puyol’s list mirrors beliefs that the La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga have a certain edge over the Premier League over the years, particularly in recent seasons.